CARSON, Calif. -- With Landon Donovan "unlikely" to appear this weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes and seemingly targeting to return by the playoffs, the LA Galaxy must answer the question -- who starts alongside Irish forward Robbie Keane.
Head coach Bruce Arena has a wealth of options to replace Donovan including forwards Edson Buddle, Jose Villarreal, and Pat Noonan as well as versatile midfielders Mike Magee and Christian Wilhelmsson. It was Magee, who started a majority of games when Donovan was absent earlier in the year, but after training on Friday, Keane told reporters that Magee would not be starting up front.
With one name seemingly crossed off, that leaves us to speculate on which player will take Donovan’s spot up top.
The likeliest option appears to be Buddle, who has played in the Galaxy’s last seven matches in all competitions since returning from knee surgery. While Buddle’s physicality and ability to get in dangerous scoring positions makes him a valuable asset, he has yet to score since returning from injury. But as he has proved throughout his career, once Buddle gets one goal, the odds are that he’ll get another soon.
Meanwhile, Villarreal’s speed and ability to score highlight-reel goals makes him an option to start alongside Keane. However, the 18-year-old forward has seen limited minutes recently, making just two substitute appearances since the end of August. Noonan remains the unlikeliest of the bunch as he has appeared in just one game since August, but has shined for the Galaxy Reserve League squad—even scoring a brilliant goal in their recent 6-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves.
Perhaps the most intriguing option is Wilhelmsson, who is primarily a wide player, but has seen limited minutes as a forward during his career. With his speed and ball skills, he could provide an effective complement alongside the more possession-oriented Keane, which could stretch opposing defenses.
Who would you play alongside Keane?
Share your thoughts below.
For the first time in more than a year, the LA Galaxy will return to Buck Shaw Stadium to face the San Jose Earthquakes and in the build up, few on either side have forgetten what happened the last time the two teams met on the campus of Santa Clara University.
The match on June 25, 2011 ended in a scoreless draw, but will remembered for the actions of Mike Magee, who helped the Galaxy hold the draw after being forced in between the pipes after an injury to starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and a red card to back up Josh Saunders.
In my latest feature for LAGalaxy.com, I revisit Magee's heroics at Buck Shaw. Read the piece here.
CARSON, Calif. -- Landon Donovan was back on the training ground on Friday for the first time since suffering a bone bruise in an Oct. 6 match against Real Salt Lake, but don't expect him to appear this Sunday against the San Jose Earthquakes.
On Friday, Donovan was admittedly on his own in training performing fitness work as he looks to return to action.
Donovan returned to the club last week after withdrawing from the U.S. national team due to what was later revealed to be a bone bruise on his left knee. In an interview with Sirius XM FC earlier in the week, head coach Bruce Arena stated that the club hopes to have the Galaxy captain back at some point during LA's final two matches of the season, but on Friday, when questioned about Donovan's injury and whether or not he'd be ready by Sunday or the playoffs, the Galaxy coach said that "we're not going to worry about that right now."
Following practice, Donovan admitted that while his condition is improving, it remains an ongoing process-- one that may prevent him from playing against San Jose.
"I'm getting better, progressing, it's a slow process, but I have a goal of being ready by the playoffs whenever that may start and that's what we're going to go," said Donovan. "This week, I would say is unlikely, but next weekend is TBD [To be determined] and after that we'll see.
"I've never had a bruise, but a bone bruise can be pretty painful and it's really just now letting it heal and dealing with the pain threshold," added Donovan. "I think that if we were in different circumstances, I'd just play through the pain, but the goal now is the playoffs and if it takes a missing a couple of games at the end of the season then it's better to be ready for the playoffs."
The Galaxy captain discusses more of his injury as well as the impact on the U.S. National Team below...
DONOVAN: "Well, the play happened and I had been dealing with that injury for about a month and I was kind of playing through the pain and figured that it was just similar. It subsided a little bit after the game, I had Sunday to rest and I thought that I would go and see how it was, so I got there and Ivan looked at me and he said, let's just be sure and get an MRI just to be sure. When he went in, we found there was pretty significant damage to the knee so I'm glad that we did it. I likely, could have tried to get better and played, but I'm glad that we had something to look at so that we could know that there was some pretty serious damage there."
(On what the previous injury was...)
DONOVAN: "Same, there was a bone bruise and also a PCL tear so that's been what has bothered me for the last couple of months."
(On when the injury surfaced…)
DONOVAN: “No, we were trying to pinpoint where it's from, but I've been in pain for a couple months and we weren't quite sure when any of those happened. One could have happened before the other, they could have happened simultaneously, it's hard to know."
(On whether he’ll require surgery in the offseason…)
DONOVAN: “We'll see, we're not sure yet."
(On where he experienced the injury and whether or not it happened during the Mexico friendly in August...)
DONOVAN: “Since the injury in the Mexico game, I've had all sorts of stuff with this leg...It's possible, I don't think it did, I think that it was probably on the way back from that and then as I recovered from that, something probably happened so hard to know."
CARSON, Calif. -- Todd Dunivant is fit and ready to start in Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes, and the LA Galaxy will need him at his best as he prepares to face off against dangerous San Jose winger Marvin Chavez.
Dunivant will be tasked with stopping the speedy Honduran winger, who has been an integral of the Earthquakes success this year, notching a team-leading ten assists as well as two goals. While Chavez's speed poses a major threat to the Galaxy back four, Dunivant is confident that the LA can slow down the fleet-footed Honduran.
"You want to try and limit his touches as much as possible. The more touches that he has, the better off they're going to be, that’s rule number one. Once he gets it, then you have to do a good job of containing and keep him in front of you, once he gets in behind you, you're not catching him," said Dunivant. "As a back line, we're going to have to breathing as a group, moving forward and back and making sure that we're always connected. If we start to get stretched and some guys are up while some guys are back then we’ll be in a lot of trouble."
CARSON, Calif. – Christian Wilhelmsson is back from international duty with Sweden and has his eyes set on starting role with the LA Galaxy.
During the international break, Wilhelmsson started and went 66 minutes for the Swedes in their 2-1 victory over The Faroe Islands last week before serving as an unused substitute during Sweden’s dramatic 4-4 draw with Germany on Tuesday. The results put the Swedes into second place in UEFA World Cup Qualifying Group C, one point ahead of Robbie Keane's Ireland.
Now that Wilhelmsson has returned to Southern California, the Swedish winger admits that he has shaken off a left calf strain that plagued him prior to the international break and is ready for a spot in the starting lineup—beginning this weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Fitness is good now; I’ve been working for a month now. It’s just a matter of playing games and getting into the game,” said Wilhelmsson. “As a player, you always want to play I’m just excited to show myself and help the team as much as possible and you can only do that on the field. I’m excited. I hope that I get in there soon and get in the shape that I was in before I came to L.A.”
But what of the dramatic comeback against Germany? It was simply “incredible,” says Wilhelmsson.
“That was some crazy stuff going on there, I don’t know, it was incredible,” said Wilhelmsson. “They played their best football in the first half and thought it’d be easy five or six to zero for them, but it was three to zero and then with an early goal in the second half, it was four to zero so we thought it was finished. When we scored, four to one, it was still quite even, but we scored on the four chances that we got in the game so it was incredible.
“Normally, [a comeback is] not possible against a team like Germany in Berlin; it was one kind of a night and just incredible,” Wilhelmsson added. “One point against Germany is always good and the way that we did it was amazing so we’re very satisfied and we need to keep going.”
With two matches remaining, the LA Galaxy are firmly in control of their playoff destiny.
A victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 21, followed by a victory agaisnt the Seattle Sounders on Oct. 28, and the Galaxy will have at least the third spot in the Western Conference and avoid a taxing Knockout Round match.
CARSON, Calif. -- The last two meetings between the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy were both dramatic encounters, but according to Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, the results mean little ahead of Sunday's match at Buck Shaw Stadium.
In two games this season, the Earthquakes roared back from a deficit to earn a victory against the Galaxy. The first was a 3-2 San Jose victory on May 23 at The Home Depot Center that featured three goals for the visitors in the last 20 minutes and started the "Goonies Never Say Die" mantra that has defined the Quakes' season. The second clash on June 30 at Stanford Stadium was just as dramatic as the Galaxy built a 3-1 lead late in the first half before a Victor Bernardez goal in the 44th and two goals in the second half gave San Jose a 4-3 victory.
Following training on Thursday, Arena admitted that those games meant little to him or the Galaxy.
ARENA: "I'm not at all troubled by those two games at this point in my life. I'm moving on, I was not happy in the short term with those games, but now I've put it past me, I'm looking for greater things in life. I had a grandchild born, we're in the middle of a heated Presidential election, [the U.S.] lost a difficult Ryder Cup, the Yankees are hanging on for life so really I don't give two sh*** about the last time that we played San Jose."
More thoughts from Arena on the Galaxy controlling their own destiny, Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake and the unbalanced schedule below.
(On the Seattle vs. Real Salt Lake match on Thursday...)
ARENA: "I thought the game was awful that playing surface [at CenturyLink Field] is becoming like a parking lot."
(On the Galaxy controlling their destiny with RSL and Seattle's tie...)
ARENA: "It’s one way of putting it, I guess. We can put two wins together; we could end up in second or third. But if we could have won ten previous games then we wouldn't have to worry about that so we've been controlling our destiny for a long time."
(On whether San Jose is a surprise team...)
ARENA: "I don’t think anything is a surprise in this league to be honest with you. At the end of the day, if you look at it you have a bunch of teams that are close together which is in a lot of ways what we anticipate. I think that throws it out of whack the whole competition this year is the whole unbalanced schedule and calling that winner of that unbalanced schedule, the Supporters’ Shield winner. That makes zero sense, but it is what it is, but having said of that, San Jose is still the team on top regardless of how odd that competition is."
CARSON, Calif. -- Literally just hours after the conclusion of the International break, MLS action returns on Wednesday with a match that will hold considerable barring on the LA Galaxy's playoff seeding.
On Wednesday evening, Real Salt Lake face off against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, in a match between the two of the Western Conference's (RSL No. 2 and Seattle No. 3) top teams. The match has major implications for the Galaxy, who currently sit in fourth place in the West two points behind the Sounders for the third seed, who after Wednesday's match will have played the same number of games as the rest of the West.
Should Seattle defeat RSL, the Galaxy would five points out of the third spot and likely be resigned to playing in the Knockout round match against the fifth seed -- likely Vancouver Whitecaps FC. If RSL wins on the other hand, LA would be unable to finish in second place, but the Galaxy would remain two points behind Seattle--who LA face in the final match of the season on Oct. 28-- and would likely need a victory in at least that match to avoid the Knockout round. Similar results are likely to be needed should the match end in a tie.
While the Galaxy will be watching the action from Seattle, they're not supporting either club.
"Obviously we want certain things to happen, but we have to take care of our business and I know that is one thing that our team is focused on," said defender Sean Franklin. " [We're] not worrying about who wins that game or if they tie or who loses. It's all about doing our job because if we don't do our job then those things don't matter."
It's time for the 11th edition of Ask the Insider.
Today's question comes from Alan Vega Butron Now that we are so close to the playoffs, What tactical and personnel changes will we see from Bruce Arena? and how will this help us come playoff time?